Elegance and Orange Wines are words that are not often associated with one another. In my experience, the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of Italy is where I've found the term to be most applicable, namely from the producers Josko Gravner, and in particular, Radikon's Fuori dal Tempo cuvée. While these examples are every bit worth the price of admission, they are often difficult to find and retail for hundreds of dollars when you do come across them. I was not expecting to draw so many similarities with these wines when I pulled the cork for today's offer, but that's exactly the type of elegance I encountered. Under the guidance of one of Italy's most iconic producers, Paolo Bea, the Monastero Suore Cistercensi have been quietly producing breathtaking skin contact/orange wines in the central Italian region of Lazio for decades. Their 'Coenobium' bottling sees light skin contact, while this 'Ruscum' spends at least 14 days on the skins and is produced in miniscule quantities. A blend of Trebbiano, Malvasia and Verdicchio, the typicity of each varietal is showcased brilliantly; a trait that can often be overshadowed by the process of making these styles of wine. The aromas are complex with notes of tangerine, persimmon, almond blossom, dried sage, and chestnuts. The acidity is vibrant, well-paced and effortlessly pushes a mineral-rich, silky and slightly creamy texture along. The earthy and salty finish is dry with a chalky tannic bite that leaves exit notes of forest floor, ash, and stone fruit pith. In order for this wine to display its full potential we strongly recommend a minimum decanting of at least 1 hour, best served with just a slight chill.
About The Producer:
Since the early 90's, this convent of 70 Cistercian nuns has been organically farming their five hectares of vines in Vitorchiano, Lazio, about 90 minutes north of Rome. The sisters really began to hone their craft in the early 2000's when Giampiero Bea began advising them, and nearly overnight their wines gained a much larger audience. Despite their popularity, little has changed as they've maintained their low yields, low-tech, and hands-off approach to winemaking.